August 11th, 2016 Georgia

The chocolate revolution

It seems that chocolate is on the cusp of a revolution. These days, we’ve all become incredibly educated on wine varieties, coffee beans and types of hops and it’s become mainstream to be a wine, coffee or beer snob. Now our chocolate producers are helping those with sweet teeth to understand where exactly their favourite treats come from.

Single origin, fair trade, organic and ethically-produced chocolate has become bigger than ever, and this year’s Visa WOAP programme is the perfect way to get your fix with a bit of an education on the side.

The biggest event in the cocoa-lover’s calendar is without a doubt the New Zealand Chocolate Festival. Two days of tastings, masterclasses, demonstrations, hands-on workshops and a casual chocolate fountain all await you at Te Papa on the 13th and 14th of August. There are even special kids’ events to help teach your sprogs that chocolate doesn’t actually come from a supermarket shelf. Get on the forefront of the bean-to-bar chocolate revolution and soon you’ll be identifying single origin flavours like a pro.

Carello del Gelato's gelato burger

If you want to space out a series of chocolate experiences over the festival, you’ll want to bookmark these Burger Wellington offerings. Carello del Gelato are bending the boundaries of burgers with a gelato patty in a doughnut bun – it’s creepily convincing and eminently delightful. And if you’ve ever wanted to eat a macaron that looks like a cheeseburger and is the actual size of your face, visit Hippopotamus to live out this fantasy with a side of sweet polenta fries.

Cocktail Wellington is also stepping up to the plate with choccie offerings. The Arborist are serving up a boozy affogato with fennel and whiskey syrup and mini doughnuts – yep, my personal cocktail fantasy – and CGR Merchant are using their signature salted caramel rum in a spiced orange and red wine concoction, accompanied by a dessert burger that actually features aged cheddar alongside chocolate and macarons. Intrigued? Me too. I’ll see you there. There are actually too many choc-tails to detail in this humble blog, so I recommend visiting CocktailWellington.com and building your own shortlist.

The new Festival Dish platform is also utilising the sweet stuff, with Ministry of Food pairing Whittaker’s Dark Ghana chocolate with venison osso buco, and Café Medici utilising over-the-hill heroes Shoc Chocolates in a rich lamb and pinot noir pie. All of this, plus a huge 54 desserts in Dine Wellington using chocolate.

So you’ve got the option of enjoying your chocolate of the contemplative craft variety, or paired with slow-cooked meats, or in the form of an indulgent, oozy brownie. Make sure you always save room for a sweet treat at this year’s festival.